TITLE: Keep Moving AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: August 04, 2005 9:13 AM DESC: Moving into my new job has me feeling a bit overwhelmed and apprehensive -- and surprised at the moving part of the move. ----- BODY: My term as department head began on Monday. I feel a bit overwhelmed with all I'd like to do right: plan for the long term, plan for the short term, learn more about our budget, create a list of faculty committees to assemble, meet individually with more faculty members about their goals and interests for the year, sift through all the notes I took in various meetings this summer, .... I have a natural desire to do it all at once, to be up to speed and at full capacity right away. I also feel a nagging, almost subconscious apprehension that I won't do as well as I have imagined I might. In my application and interview for the position, I made some strong claims about openness, transparency, respect, fairness, and leadership. Now the promises made in the safety of no responsibility meet the reality of responsibility.

Oft expectation fails, and most oft there
Where most it promises; and oft it hits
Where hope is coldest, and despair most fits.

-- William Shakespeare
All's Well That Ends Well (II, i, 145-147)

I think that my best course of action in the face of seemingly overwhelming possibilities and a fear of failure is familiar to many of you: approach the task in an agile fashion. Take small, measurable steps. Communicate with my team, and let them contribute their many ideas and talents. Get feedback wherever possible, and use it to improve both the process and content of my work. I've been think about how I might adapt ideas from Scrum and XP as explicit practices in the administrative side of my job. My thoughts are ill-formed at this point, so they are read neither for implementation nor description just yet. But I think a big visible chart is in the offing. The key is to keep moving, to be making progress in concrete ways. When George Hellmeier of Bellcore received the Founders Award from the National Academy of Engineering, he related the tale of his first discovery in liquid crystal technology. When he told Vladimir Zworykin that he had "stumbled upon" his discovery, Zworykin replied "... to stumble, one must be moving." Sadly, the moving that is most occupying my mind and time these days is moving my office. In 13 years here and another 10 before that as a student of CS, I have collected a lot of book. And a lot of papers. And a lot of software -- on 5-¼" floppy, 3-½" floppy, zip disks, and CDs. In the depths of a filing cabinet, I found shrink-wrapped copies of Microsoft Windows 95 and Office and Visual Studio. And cables for 1992 Mac Quadras. On top of most all of this was a layer of dust that betrays my lack of cleaning over the last few years. I hope to have things set up in my new office by the end of the week so that I can get down to the real business of leading my department. -----